n behalf of the deceased. The intestacy rules, subject to reforms/amendments from time to time, being primarily governed by statues, are cited as a "will made by Parliament based upon the presumed wishes of the deceased."
The present paper shall attempt to analyse the proposition to understand how rules of intestacy are indeed a "will made by the Parliament" and to examine whether, and to what extent the rules reflect the will of the deceased. In doing so, it shall first understand the provisions of intestate wealth distribution covered in statues and leading case laws and then examine the public opinion as well as reform proposals and other recommendations.
The current law of intestacy in the U.K. is enacted in the Administration of Estates Act 1925 (AEA 1925) as amended, bounded by procedural legislations. Before analysing the provisions of AEA, 1925, a brief understanding of the evolution of intestacy rules may be worthwhile as a backdrop to the analysis.
Before 1926, intestate succession to realty was governed by the rules of inheritance, accordingly realty passed to the heir-at-law, who was usually the eldest son. If there were no surviving sons, or their issue, realty devolved equally on the daughters of the intestate. The next entitled were the brothers and sisters of the intestate, or their issue; however, after the Inheritance Act 1833 the intestate's parents were given priority over brothers and sisters. If there were no next-of-kin, the realty passed to the intestate's lord or the Crown as 'bona vacantia.' The intestate's widow was strictly not entitled, but under the customary rules of dower, the widow became entitled to one-third of her husband's realty on his death. A widower took a life interest - defined as curtesy -- in the whole of his wife's realty. Similar rules applied to personalty, being distributed under the statutory scheme covered under the Statutes of Distribution 1670-1685.4
The AEA 1925 repealed the previous rules, both as regards succession to realty and personalty, giving primacy to the surviving spouse, and also ending the customary difference between widows and widowers as to entitlement. After 1925, the surviving spouse took the whole estate, the spouse being entitled to a statutory legacy of 1,000, the personal chattels of the intestate and a life interest in half the residue if there were issue.
The Intestates' Estates Act 1952, which followed the "Morton report,"5 introduced major changes --the surviving spouse was also given the right to appropriate the matrimonial home and the statutory legacy was increased to 5,000. However, the 1952 Act also made Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1938 applicable to intestacy, introducing flexibility by allowing certain family members of the